Vortices

Grading and other obligations have amassed into a vortex which will keep me stationary and spinning this week. Today I basically need to wrap up my midterm grading. Tuesday I need to find an alternative way to pay my rent and internet bill because I haven’t been paid for my UTM TA work, meet with Dr. Neville about my proposal, prepare my tutorials for the week, and go to Judo. Wednesday I am out in Mississauga to teach back-to-back-to-back tutorials, followed by double office hours to help people with their forthcoming essays (the basis for my second, worse round of grading this term). Thursday a trip to the dentist will punctuate the completion of my application to the next Canadian Political Science Association conference. Friday I am back at UTM all day for a notes-and-photography assignment. Saturday, we have a double Judo class in the company of the intermediate and advanced classes.

Judo as a partnered undertaking

One way in which Judo is remarkable and surprising is how it is profoundly collaborative and cooperative.

Many warm-up exercises and all grappling and groundwork rely on close trained cooperation between two people.

Much of beginner Judo consists of learning how to fall without injury, and how to help a partner who is developing a technique gain ability.

It’s worth noting that since starting in September, we haven’t tried any free grappling in a standing position. The closest we get is free attempts to throw and hold down an opponent when you both start on your knees or sitting back to back, and we have been encouraged to tap out and end the round when we are convinced we cannot escape the hold down.

We are learning so many different techniques and working with partners of so many body types that we often need to seek guidance from the instructors and advanced students about how to perform techniques properly. For me, the hardest thing is doing a whole set of difficult tasks simultaneously: whether it’s practicing a forward rolling breakfall with initial foot and shoulder and arm positioning and then complex movement and then more precise foot and arm positioning, working on throws that require coordinated and complex foot and upper body movements, or trying to maintain or break hold downs using a combination of taught technique and the improvisation of enthusiasm.

A worrisome number of people think the Queen picks the Prime Minister, and that every Canadian law had to be approved by the British parliament before 1982

I am nearly 50% of the way through this term’s first big batch of grading, with the rest to be done by Tuesday. My lower right ribs have also nearly healed, and today’s Judo class went very well.

I may be able to spare the time to take some photos at tonight’s Halloween dance at Massey, which is unfortunately at the same time as the Clay & Paper Theatre Company’s annual Night of Dread.

Radios

Carrying around and being close to transmitting radios makes me nervous.

They may be programmed to harm their owner from the outset, or reprogrammed by private hackers or government forces.

They are the means through which ubiquitous surveillance is maintained, alongside agreements and clandestine action against fixed-line phone and internet providers. Perhaps the most important rule for understanding computer, internet, and network security today is that your government is attacking you.

So… when I walk around with radios it stresses me out. That includes the cell network, WiFi, and Bluetooth radios in the ragged old iPhone4 which I sometimes carry. It includes the capable and sophisticated antennas in my laser-etched Macbook.

To an extent, it includes the increasingly inescapable RFID tags built into passports, credit cards, and bank cards.

I distrust the state.

I think the unprecedented ability of the state to track and permanently archive our conversations, movements, and financial transactions alters how we should feel about democracy, governance, and technology.

If you are evil, or curious, or a nationalistic defender of state authority, you need to start studying software defined radio.

In contrast, I find radios which can only receive comforting and anachronistic. “Radio” still means to a lot of people, a machine to receive and interpret data sent by radio frequencies. GPS receivers and radio clocks are good examples.